No one knows for sure how Ocracoke's wild ponies first settled on the island, but the present day herd is almost certainly descended from shipwrecked Spanish mustangs and other horses that came to these shores with the earliest English settlers. Over the years new blood was occasionally introduced. For a colorful story of two circus horses that found their way to Ocracoke click here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072507.htm.
Of course, the Ocracoke ponies played an important part in island history in the mid-twentieth century when my Uncle Marvin Howard organized the celebrated mounted Boy Scout troop.
Today a remnant herd is maintained on National Park Service land midway up the island. Several years ago a new colt was born, and the rangers named him Lawton Howard after my father who always enjoyed visiting the ponies at their pasture and pen. A few days ago Joyce Reynolds sent me the following photos she took of this handsome young steed (click on any photo to view a larger image).
Whether you live on the island, or just visit us, be sure to ride down to the pony pen and absorb a little bit of island history whenever you have the opportunity.
This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the 1913 wreck of the 6-masted schooner, George W. Wells. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072110.htm.